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My 12 year old daughter - year 8 occassional school refuser

(12 Posts)
motherofnearlyteeen Mon 08-Oct-12 17:45:46

My daughter is now in year 8 in a state run secondary school in Enfield, and has anxiety rooted headaches,stomach aches etc about going to school. Her attendance, despite our parental encouragement, meeting with school etc. is a shocking 54% since September this year, and we have had a legal caution from South Eastern Attendance Advisory Service (SEAAS) - you never think it could happen with your own child. Her attendance last year was average 95%. I am pulling my hair out this term, trying to find a solution, even starting to contemplate whether I should consider homeschooling. Any advice/similar experience would be much appreciated. I desparately want to help my daughter. Many thanks !

catnipkitty Mon 08-Oct-12 19:03:53

I'm sorry i can't help much as haven't been in your situation, but I really sympathise. Do you know why she's refusing to go? Can she tell you what the problem/s is/are? My sister did exactly this at the same fact hated school so much it made her ill and she wasn't officially home educated but left school for medical reasons Idiagnosed with ME in the end), the LEA provided a tutor for a while and she basically never went back.
Good luck. I hope things work out for you
C x

ToffeeWhirl Mon 08-Oct-12 20:03:13

Sorry you are going through this. My son (13) suffers generalised anxiety and had a terrible time trying to get to school. I took him out of school in Year 6 to home educate, but he did then attempt to go back to school in Year 7. However, he suffered so many physical symptoms from the anxiety that in the end it wasn't feasible for him to continue. I have now deregistered and am home educating him. He is still anxious, but at least he doesn't have school to contend with.

You say your daughter's attendance was 95% last year, so is this anxiety a recent issue? If so, do you know what has changed for her? Are the school being supportive? The Education Outreach Worker was involved in helping my DS cope with school and arranged support, such as a contact at the secondary school that he could go to when he felt too anxious to remain in a lesson. Would this be possible for you?

It is really stressful for you both and you have my sympathy.

FionaJNicholson Tue 09-Oct-12 08:21:49

might be worth making contact with home educators in North London and Herts?

musicposy Sat 13-Oct-12 09:40:31

I don't believe in forcing a child in this situation - I think it's counterproductive and just likely to cause more anxiety long term. Don't let anyone tell you she somehow has to get through it. If you want a happy confident child I would be getting her out of it.

DD1 refused school a lot in Year 5 and we pushed her through it. The tears and upset and dragging her off me every morning were awful. She did get through it but by Year 7 she was generally anxious, miserable, and unable to cope with the slightest thing that went wrong at school. By then her younger sister was already being home ed so after much deliberation we took her out at the start of Year 8.

She has just started college (Year 12) to do A levels after 4 years at home. She is thriving. She is happy, making friends, finding the work really easy. She reckons she is one of the most confident students on all her courses. Home ed was the very best thing we ever did for her. There's no reason why it wouldn't be the same for you smile

ToffeeWhirl Sat 13-Oct-12 12:52:26

I totally agree with musicposy and I speak from (bitter) experience.

julienoshoes Sat 13-Oct-12 14:14:27

Mike Fortune-Wood has written a book "Can't Go Won't Go An alternative approach to school refusal
"School refusal, sometimes called 'school phobia', is a complex and often contentious issue affecting rising numbers of children. Coping with this issue can tear families apart and leave lasting affects on children.

In "Can't Go, Won't Go" Mike Fortune-Wood looks at the scale of the problem and how families are treated by a range of statutory authorities.Interspersed with moving accounts from families who have struggled with school refusal, sometimes over a decade or more, this important and ground-breaking book sign-posts the need for better communication and strategies from service providers from schools to psychologists.

It suggests that the current trend to either medicalise or demonise children who refuse to go to school will only add to society's problems as well as damaging the individuals concerned. Fortune-Wood goes on to document an alternative approach; that of removing children from school to home educate them, suggesting that far from leading to disaster (as professionals often predict) this can become a life enhancing decision."

and he has a School Refusal email support group
"The list exists for discussion and support for families with children who are, for one reason or another refusing school"

Onadietcolabreak Thu 25-Oct-12 18:27:01

Hi, sorry nothing practical to add, but I'm in your situation, almost word for word!

DD (12) got so bad, that she has started to suffer from panic attacks sad
It got to the point that I'd send her, but she would just boomerang back in tears and when she was there, she was being bullied so much that she would make herself sick so she could hide out in the nurses office.
The school have been next to useless, the teachers would pick her out to shout at over her shoes (she has a slight deformity of her feet) even though they know she had to wear them and that she gets called awful things because of the way she walks, so it was almost like they were highlighting her problem to the bully's angry

So after weeks of deliberation, I have decided to HE her. Told her this afternoon when she returned from another awful day at school and she looks like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders smile in fact we both do! As the stress I have been going through as a result of the schools pressure about attendance and the resentment we were starting to feel towards each other has vanished!

Musicposy that's a fantastic outcome for your DD, hope for the saw for my DD.

Good luck with the situation, I hope it works out for you both.

Saracen Fri 26-Oct-12 08:16:33

Oh, Onadietcolabreak that is great news that you and your daughter are already feeling less stressed and resentful towards each other.

Good luck!! I hope the two of you continue to enjoy it.

Iceflower Wed 31-Oct-12 21:41:30

Hello OP, I hope I'm not adding to your worries. I wanted to share my story about my dd in case you notice any similarities.

My dd got through primary school fine. She had a dx of dyslexia and was very shy but had a small circle of longstanding friends. She started secondary school and seemed to be coping ok, but the situation started to deteriorate towards the end of Y7. Whe she started Y8 the situation deteriorated rapidly and she completely stopped attending by Easter of Y8. The school suspected a social communication disorder and referred her to CAHMS where she was dx with Aspergers.

She had camouflaged her difficulties and appeared NT to everyone, but the demands of secondary school caused so much anxiety she literally couldn't cope anymore and had a breakdown. if I had known this, I wouldn't have pushed her to continue attending till she broke down.

What support is your dd receiving from school?

maggi Thu 01-Nov-12 06:03:39

I had 2 experiences of this.

My foster son refused to go suddenly and never went back. He was in his final year but even so I expected a deluge of people turning up at the door or fineing us. We heard nothing! We had to chase the school for help and even his social worker wasn't bothered. In his case he left after he stirred so much trouble for himself that he had 26 boys chasing him down the corridors and the teachers had to shut him in a classroom for his own protection. (We are not allowed to home school foster children- but he might have passed some exams if we could have given him a late boost- possibly.)

Our own ds, yr7, struggled since yr2 at school. We'd tried to work with the school and him and had given it a good chance of suceeding. But the first year at secondary school turned him into a nightmare child, he complained of being bullied but in truth he was bullying. He stole, degraded others, disappeared for hours on his way home, shoplifted, became violent at home, constantly argued with his brother, etc. He finally showed up on the school scans as dyslexic which we'd suspected all along. Anyway, we decided to home school and a huge weight was instantly lifted from the family. Over night the violence and arguements were gone. Over a month our relationship was restored and he is now a pleasure to be around. (Although grandma is complaining that he constantly asks questions these days. I've tried to educate her that it shows he is regaining his love of learning and is seeking knowledge once more.)

maggi Fri 02-Nov-12 22:59:25

Just to add. Although ds was not refusing school, he was showing his school stress in another way, by behaving wildly. He was 'good' during the lessons. Then when in the 'safe' environment of the home would let out all his feelings upon people he trusts. There was also the odd skipped lesson.

I am now feeling guilty that we did not recognize how he was feeling sooner and act upon it.

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